National / International News

On bringing virtual reality to the movies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 01:00

The history of film is full of efforts to enhance the narrative experience. In 1960, the film Scent of Mystery featured the first use of the infamous “Smell-ovision” technology. It also was the last.

At the time, the New York Times film reviewer wrote, “As theatrical exhibitionism, it is gaudy, sprawling and full of sound. But as an attempt at a considerable motion picture it has to be classified as bunk.”

The first wave of 3D films in the 1950s had a similarly short time in the sun before being dismissed as a gimmick, and today’s revival of the format has proven controversial among critics.

Now, Oculus Rift, the virtual reality company purchased by Facebook, is pitching its technology to studios. As the TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, Matt Zoller Seitz thinks a lot about entertainment and its potential to evolve.

Seitz argues that virtual reality is incongruous with what we see a film as today, and that simply inserting the capability into film would not be useful to the audience.

“I honestly can’t see how this can enhance narrative as we know it,” he says.

In his view, the value in virtual reality for films would be in exploring the environment without the tether of the narrative.

“The point of a story is that you surrender to it,” he says, pointing out that the point of a video game or virtual reality is the perception of uninhibited exploration of the virtual world. 

Driver dies after being hit by Stewart

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:59
An American racing driver has died after being struck by the car of three-time Nascar champion Tony Stewart in New York.

Energy industry 'over-regulated'

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:55
Five former energy regulators have suggested that too much regulation may have hindered competition among energy suppliers and kept energy prices high.

VIDEO: Maradona slaps journalist in face

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:54
Argentina football legend Diego Maradona slaps a journalist in the face after his car was surrounded by media in Buenos Aires.

Kings of Leon in tour bus accident

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:52
Kings of Leon postpone a concert in New York after drummer Nathan Followill breaks his ribs in an accident on their tour bus.

Pegg hails new Star Trek director

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:44
New Star Trek director Roberto Orci makes "perfect sense" as the replacement for JJ Abrams, says star Simon Pegg.

Iraqi Prime Minister Steps Up Struggle To Keep His Job

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:43

Embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is taking his effort to keep his post to the courts after announcing he will file a legal complaint against the country's newly elected president.

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Gatwick and Heathrow see July record

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:42
The debate over expanding the UK's air capacity has heated up after record passenger numbers at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports in July.

Mickelson secures Ryder Cup place

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:41
Phil Mickelson secures a 10th successive Ryder Cup appearance after finishing second at the US PGA Championship.

Figures reveal ward occupancy rates

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:23
Wards in many of Scotland's hospitals consistently have higher than recommended occupancy rates, according to data obtained by BBC Scotland.

AUDIO: Why I changed my birth certificate

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:21
The first donor-conceived person in Britain to have the man named as her father legally removed from her birth certificate is supporting a campaign to overhaul the way births are registered in the UK.

Stores Looted After Vigil For Mo. Teen Shot And Killed By Police

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:19

A day of anger over a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in suburban St. Louis turned to mayhem as people confronted police who sought to block off access to several areas of the city.

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Murder inquiry into woman's death

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:10
A murder investigation is launched following the death of a woman in Sheffield.

The rise of the Islamic State

BBC - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:00
Visual guide to the growth of the jihadist group

Getting my Fortune read

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-11 00:00

A buddy of mine in California somehow stumbled across a vintage piece of business history: a copy of Fortune magazine from 1948. A piece about Business and Ethics stood out for him, and instead of sending me a scan of the article, my pal located a second copy of the old magazine and sent the whole thing.

Lucky for me. That 66 year-old Fortune is a striking document. First of all, the ads: loads of farm equipment for sale in an economy where agriculture still dominated. More than a half century before Amazon, there's the Sears catalog, which, an ad reveals, offers the option of buying a Kaiser automobile mail order. There is a half-baked idea from a famous economist for a "Magic Circle": a spot toward the middle of the United States — think Missouri and Oklahoma — where factories could be relocated to keep them the furthest away from Russian nuclear bombs. The Fortune editors, even in real time, were skeptical.

I shared the old magazine with Marketplace's economics expert, Chris Farrell, who was equally fascinated. Chris noted how a big chunk of its content addressed issues surrounding labor unions that played such a greater role in the US economy in the immediate post-war years than they do now. Chris also noted the near-absence of women in this publication for businessmen.

Click the media player above to hear Marketplace economics correspondent Chris Farrell in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

It was, however, that business ethics piece that stood out as so oddly quaint and prescient at the same time. Its author was a British-born academic, William Orton of Smith College, who tried to demolish what must have been a pervasive view that business is business and ethics is a subject for Sunday sermons. These days we call it "fiduciary responsibility" or "shareholder value," but that forced separation isn't hard to find in boardrooms to this day. While many business professionals have the impulse to act ethically, Orton wrote, they may be worried that stockholders or banks see ethical/moral considerations as "unbusinesseslike" and would "kick," meaning put up a fuss if ethical issues were added to the mix. 

Orton sounds like he could have been writing today in other ways. He brings up inequality and notes a division in the economy between the "makers" (the manufacturers and innovators) and the "takers" who consume these creations or serve as middlemen.

My colleague Chris was especially taken by a point Orton makes about the need to be sure that what makes sense from a business or economics point of view also makes sense from the perspective of right and wrong. Orton uses this example: Say an orchestra comes to town for some performances but a schoolteacher isn't paid enough to afford the tickets. This, Orton argues, is not a good economy and is not a good society. Ethics and business cannot be separate.

***

Before we put down this 1948 copy of Fortune, one last highlight. The magazine included a feature story about what one might regard as America's first hipster or boutique hotel.  It was just being opened in Cincinnati at the time of publication and was described as a triumph of mid-century design. This hotel, judging from the pictures, was the Fifties before the Fifties actually occurred. Among its Modernist touches, it featured an original mural by the artist Joan Miro and a big mobile by Alexander Calder. I wondered how the hotel was doing now, in 2014. 

Not well. The hotel closed in 2008 and although some historic preservationists in Ohio would love to save it, much of its Modernist coolness had long ago been stripped away. I was shocked to see the Miro had been removed from the premises, replaced by wood paneling. At least that had a decent outcome: the 30 foot-wide piece is now in the custody of the Cincinnati Art Museum, along with the Calder. Sadly, during this era of hipster hotels, the Terrace Plaza is regarded as too big to be "boutique." 

What Makes A Nation Happy?

NPR News - Sun, 2014-08-10 23:34

A group representing some of the world's richest countries has created an interactive online tool that invites the public to rank 11 factors that contribute to happiness.

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What Makes A Nation Happy?

NPR News - Sun, 2014-08-10 23:34

A group representing some of the world's richest countries has created an interactive online tool that invites the public to rank 11 factors that contribute to happiness.

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Critics Blame Airbnb For San Francisco's Housing Problems

NPR News - Sun, 2014-08-10 23:30

Some have found that renting on a nightly basis brings a lot more money than long-term leases, but people concerned about a shrinking rental market have turned to legal action and protests.

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Putting Power Tools In The Hands Of 5-Year-Olds

NPR News - Sun, 2014-08-10 23:29

To move kids away from computer screens, a new wave of learning programs is emphasizing hands-on activities. Like building stuff.

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A Coping Plan Can Help Fend Off Depression From Vision Loss

NPR News - Sun, 2014-08-10 23:28

About 25 percent of people with macular degeneration in both eyes develop clinical depression. But developing strategies for staying engaged in passions and people may cut that risk by more than half.

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